Big Ben has shoulder sprain, doubtful for Sunday; Tomlin confident in Leftwich
The SC sprain means that Roethlisberger suffered damage to the joint connecting his clavicle to his sternum, and what makes it worse is that the injury is in his throwing shoulder. The injury will not require surgery, but having also injured a rib on the same play, Roethlisberger would have to deal with an immense amount of pain to play through the ailment.
Awaiting further MRI's, the Steelers could be in for even worse news on the extent of the injury, and Roethlisberger could be headed for an extended absence.
Obviously, this is a huge blow to the Steelers, whose offense was almost completely reliant on Roethlisberger thanks to a struggling running game. Roethlisberger, boasting a 100.0 quarterback rating, was having one of the best seasons of his career. He was averaging 275.4 yards per game - the second best average of his career - and had by far his best TD:INT ratio of his career (17:4). If he misses time, the Steelers will have to pray that their 21st ranked rushing attack can get going and that backup quarterback Byron Leftwich can be effective.
Leftwich is best known for his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars and his shockingly long throwing motion. His best season came in 2005 when he led the Jaguars to an 8-3 record with an 89.3 quarterback rating. However, he hurt his ankle in the eleventh game of the season and would not return to the field until the playoffs, where his Jaguars were smoked by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Leftwich started the first six games of the following season, but another ankle injury allowed David Garrard to get a crack at the starting quarterback job. Winning five of his first seven games (the Jaguars were 3-3 with Leftwich), Garrard won the starting role.
Since Garrard replaced him in Jacksonville, Leftwich has been nothing more than a backup journeyman, playing for three different teams in his three seasons after leaving the Jagaurs. He's backed up Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh for the past three seasons. He's had two stints as the starter since leaving Jacksonville - once with the Falcons, once with the Buccaneers - but went 0-5 in the two stints combined.
Tomlin insists that the team is confident in Leftwich as their starter, but he is a significant downgrade from Big Ben Roethlisberger.